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Green Salad

1 or 2 Heads of Lettuce

1 tbs. White Wine or Cider Vinegar
Pinch of Salt
Generous grinding of Black Pepper
Half Teaspoon of Sugar
4 Tbs. Olive Oil ( Virgin or Extra Virgin)Lettuce:
Our standard Butterhead Lettuce is good, Cos (Romaine) has a better flavour and is nice and crisp.
Iceberg has crunch but not much flavour.
Frisse is pleasantly bitter and looks very attractive in a salad bowl.
There are also baby Gems which are much like Cos and don`t ignore spinach which can add great interest and flavour.
The red tinged lettuces like Red Oak Leaf and Lollo Rosso are very pretty and taste good.
Raddiccho is true red lettuce and quite bitter .

Washing the lettuce:
Lettuce is a very tender plant and should be treated gently.
Fill a sink or large bowl with cold water.
Break up the lettuce into leaves and drop into the water.
Swill these around gently with your hand - this should remove any loose dirt - and then take them out one by one checking as you go.
The best way to dry them is with a salad spinner - and dry them you must or else the remaining water will dilute the dressing.
Don't try to dry too many at a time or they may bruise.

Making the Vinaigrette:
In a bowl or a jug whisk together the vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar.
Add the Olive Oil, stirring all the time, until it has all been absorbed by the vinegar.
This mixture does not have to emulsify like a mayonnaise just be well mixed together.
Now you can either leave this in a bowl to be given a last minute whisk just before use or put it into a jar or bottle and you can give it a good shake in this to mix.

Variations on Vinaigrette:
Use Sunflower Oil instead of Olive in which case add a little mustard to the vinegar to boost the flavour.
For a milder Vinaigrette use wine instead of vinegar (omit the sugar) or lemon juice instead of vinegar (use honey instead of sugar).
A little garlic or chopped chives is a great addition as long as it is suitable with the main ingredients of the meal.

Assembling the Salad:
Don`t dress the salad until the last minute.
The best time to dress it is just before you eat it.
Pour the dressing over the lettuce in the bowl and the either mix it together with salad servers or with your (clean) hands.
The French have a trick of putting the vinaigrette in a pool in the bottom of the bowl, placing the salad servers over this and then balancing the lettuce on these. They then mix the salad at the table at the last minute.

Last words on Salads:
Always remember that it is meant to accompany and compliment not dominate.
Be careful with additions.
Avocado blackens quickly and must be sprinkled with lemon juice, adjust your vinaigrette accordingly.
Hot additions like crispy bacon pieces and croutons will wilt the lettuce so must be added at the last minute.

April 14, 2006 09:12 PM | 0 Comments
  Martin Dwyer
Consultant Chef